Let me just start off by saying that we are young and we are cheap. Why are we cheap? Because we're students, of course! And that's why 4 cheap young girls decided to go on this somewhat spontaeneous trip to Los Angeles. I went purely because of the annual Korean Music Festival (Kpop fan!!!), my one friend went as a graduation trip for herself (only one out of the 3 other trips!), and my two sister friends went because they had nothing better to do.
All these reasons brought us together on one of the most epic journeys of our lives!
I am a person who happens to enjoy planning. Nothing makes me more happy and so, I took it upon myself to plan every single day by the hour! Yes, I know that some of you spontaeneous folks are already giving me WTH looks, which is exactly what my two sister friends gave me when I sent them my AWESOME EXCEL SHEET!
I'm telling you, Los Angeles is not a city to be exploring and hunting for activities to do with only 6 days in hand. You need to come prepared to get the most of out of it and especially if you are planning to save money everywhere!
Suggestion for planning: Check out museum sites for free admission times, use Yelp for local advise, and find free/cheap parking for all locations you are visiting!!! By far the parking location research I did was the most helpful because in LA that's where you lose a lot of your hard earned money. Tips too.
Booked Hotel and airfare together online (approx. $400 for 3 ppl as my fourth friend booked her flight later)
Hotel: Hollywood Downtowner Inn
Free breakfast (eggs, ham, pancakes, juice, milk, cereal, etc!), free Internet, free parking, 1 min to metro, and on Hollywood Blvd, which is close to everything there is to do in LA. It's not a glitzy hotel; just an inn owned by a sweet Gujarati couple. Clean too.
Car Rental: Hertz
My friend booked the car online from Hertz Carribean to get the 'No Underage Fees' deal. When we arrived at the LAX Hertz, we had to pay extra for insurance. Still great deal.
[For a detailed budget breakdown, see the last journal entry.]
April 29, 2010
After a month of exhaustive planning and final exams, we were finally heading down to Los Angeles or as I like to call it, Lala Land! Nothing interesting happened when we started except that we all woke up at 3am to catch our flight. Wait, there's also the fact that we almost missed our flight because 2 of my friends decided to show up fashionably late, but thank goodness the check-in guy was nice! Anyway, took a short flight to Detroit (looks like Chicago's O'Hare) from where we caught our connection to LA. During that painful 6 hour flight (I love traveling, but hate planes) I slept except when I woke up to claim my food. Little did I know that the person sitting beside me that entire time was to become my new Kpop buddy!
Starting conversations with strangers
If you want to get to know someone or make petty conversation with a stranger (which was what happened in this case), then always start off with a random question. As we were preparing to land you could see the outline of some mountains and thinking that this was a great way to start a conversation, I asked the girl beside me if she knew what they were called. She had no idea even though this was her 5th time in LA! lol
"Oh really? 5th time? Wow! So why are you here again?" ME
"I'm actually here for a concert." HER
"Really?!" and here I would've asked her if she was talking about the Korean concert, but it just so happens that non-Asian kpop fans are considered weird by some folks, so I decided to instead ask which concert.
"I'm actually going to this korean concert which I've..." At this point I cut her off and exclaimed that I was going there too! Funny how things happen. :D
Some things in life just cannot be planned...
Well, after adding each other on Facebook and planning to meet at the concert, my friends and I headed off to Hertz LAX to pick up our cool red Nissan Versa. Very spacey.
In 5 minutes we were on the highway with the radio turned on and the wind blowing in our hair. Compared to our little ol' city, Los Angeles highways are HUGE! Eight lanes and even a car ON FIRE to start our exciting trip!
Arriving at our inn from the airport took about 30 minutes, including the 5 minutes we wasted getting lost in the confusing Downtown highway section. Our inn was pretty small and as mentioned before, not the best. But for girls who like to have clean beds and washrooms, this was perfect for the price. PLUS we got the room for the price of three guests instead of 4.
Though we rented a car for the entire trip, we decided not to drive to Downtown LA as advised by our inn owner. Instead we took the metro.
Let me just stop here and say how CLEAN the metro stations in LA are. Compared to Toronto (urine infested), LA's metro stations are heaven and very cheap too. Public transportation in LA in general is very inexpensive. The only problem is that the system is not integrated, which causes commuters to lose a lot of time changing between trains, subways, and busses. Really a shame especially since California is the 'green' state of the US.
So back to our first day of touristy things to do. Well, we didn't really get started with touring Downtown because (A) we were STARVING (B) we were lost, and (C) we were tired. The plan was to go to Japantown and eat Ramen, but because we forgot our map, we got lost and ended up in Chinatown after 1 hour of random walking. Starving and exhausted, we decided to forget ramen and have Chinese food instead.
You know how food tastes REALLY good when you have been starving for hours? Well, that's not what happened. The Chinese food we ate was terrible and the dishes were dirty! If you happen to land in this unfortunate side of the town, do not eat at the Best Ocean Seafood restaurant.
Leaving the restaurant ( i did not tip if you were asking), we headed towards the first item on our list: The Walt Disney Concert Hall. This out of the world structure in the middle of seas of rectangular buildings is an awesome sight to behold. Alas we were too late for the tour and had to settle with touring the grounds ourselves. Nonetheless, it was great to see the lovely little garden and the interior.
Right across the street was our next stop, the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA), and as we began to walk, it all of sudden got really windy. I mean REALLY WINDY!!!!!! I literally blew into my friend! We ran for refuge in the underground museum where we arrived in time for the free admission period. We did an hour long tour that really was a first for me. The art tour was exactly like in the movies where the guide asks you philosophical and critical thinking questions. I personally enjoyed it very much and think that everyone should do one of these guided tours because I will never look at a picture the same way again.
When we came outside again, the wind was still roaring and it felt like I was in San Francisco again. We somehow managed to make it to the next museum (Geffen Contemporary Arts) where we spent another hour looking at wild structures, doors, murderous Santa Clauses, perverted colours, and more. Looking at all that art sure makes one hungry. Time for ramen! Which was perfect because we were right beside Japantown.
According to Rameniac's reviews, Mr. Ramen and Daikokuya were two great locations for this Japanese snack. Daikokuya was super busy as expected (Line out the door) and unfortunately did not serve seafood (halal meat yo!). So Mr. Ramen it was. The interiors were not much to note of, but the two ladies who served us were really nice. We found out that the windy weather was very unlike LA and I quote "berry weird weather". Like the weather, my ramen turned out terrible too.
*sigh* The day just did not go as I had planned...
FEAR NOT! The night was not over yet. We still had time to check out that curious looking Japanese Village plaza across the road. :D
Anyone who has been a manga, anime, or Asian music fan would know how lovely and exciting it is to be in these little Asian stores especially when you, yourself, are not Azn. (I'm South Asian) There were dolls everywhere, millions of delicious sweet breads, funky drinks of various exotic fruits, knick knacks galore, and more!
High on exhaustion and giddy with excitement (finally!), my friends and I ended the night trying to pop the marble off the bottle so that the drink would explode = EPIC
I guess some things in life really, really cannot be planned, eh?
The Best Ocean Seafood Restaurant dish... avoid.